Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of The Union

What a world we live in. No doubt, at other, if not all, times in human history, people have justifiably made similar claims delivered with (or, perhaps without) heavy doses of sarcasm. Perhaps another way of describing our present predicament here in the U.S. would be to observe that, as per the ancient and marvelously veiled Chinese curse, we live in interesting times. And speaking of interesting, China, as fate would have it, is now America's greatest economic rival. I'm not sure who, if anyone, constitutes the United States' greatest military rival. I suspect no one does, though, equally, I'm reasonably sure that in some regions of the world asymetric warfare, or, if you prefer, fourth generation warfare, is practiced with great skill against the U.S. military juggernaut. But that's another subject for another time.

What may be the most interesting thing about living in the U.S. presently, at least from this citizen's perspective, is the overwhelmingly Orwellian disconnect between the behavior of officialdom, their preferred organs of misinformation dissemination, and the state of the rest of the union. With that in mind, I think it's worth noting that during President Obama's State of The Union address last night, one of officialdom's highest ranking members, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fell fast asleep. I suppose Justice Ginsburg's deep dozing could be attributed to her advanced age, or, even, perhaps, the relative lateness of the hour, but I prefer to entertain the idea, however fanciful, that the Universe, through the unwitting medium of Justice Ginsburg was, instead, offering a meaningful, succinct, proper, and profound judgment on the content and quality of our President's oratory- if not his entire Presidency- as one best slept through. To bowdlerize the pop outfit, Green Day, "Wake me up when Obama ends."

I personally applaud Justice Ginsburg's response, however unintended it may have been, to the President's State of The Union address. After all, his was a communication with only slightly more merit than an awkwardly constructed, sophomoric love ditty scrawled on public restroom toilet paper. Had I watched the speech in real time it would have unquestionably left me in a state of agitation entirely incompatible with sleep, but one well aligned with nightmarish fantasies of the sort that would likely still be bothering me. Sometimes, when the times get too interesting, the best thing to do is to turn off the set. And while Poor Justice Ginsburg couldn't afford that luxury, being duty bound to actually attend the event, the results were, nevertheless, at least where her presence was concerned, entirely fitting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarah Palin: Whore of Babylon Update

Until now I've neglected to comment on what is perhaps the most momentous Whore of Babylon fiasco since John McCain, in his role as Pandora, and to his everlasting shame and disgrace, caved to the "religious right" lunatic fringe pressure from members of The Republican Party and released the scourge from Wasilla upon the lower forty eight. By now, everyone who is remotely tuned in to current events is familiar with The Whore of Babylon's hideous connection to the horrific shooting spree that took place approximately a week ago in Tuscon, Arizona.

One of the chief victims in the melee was Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who has spent the last week fighting for her life in hospital. Sarah Palin, who employed the language of firearms against her political opponents in the midterm elections, has come under intense criticism as a result. One devoutly hopes that the opprobrium she has so richly earned of late amounts to the beginning of the end for Palin as any kind of political force. In the meantime, TWOB, who is as shameless as she is egocentric, will not go easily.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Uncertainty Continued

I was prompted to write the prior piece on the inability to achieve certainty as a result of observing (and sometimes) engaging in an ongoing debate, on three other sites, regarding the nature of, and prospects for, gold. Quite frankly, I'm more than a little tired of debating the merits of gold to those who appear programmed against the very idea of gold acting as a store of value. I detect-over and over- a combination of obnoxious recalcitrance and immaturity in those who attempt to make arguments against gold's utility. This is especially the case given the superior performance of physical gold and silver to all other asset classes over a one year, five year, and ten year basis.

In the case of one particular commentator, who asserts-his assertion being, more precisely, a belief, based as it is on projections that have nothing like a guarantee (ah, there's uncertainty again) of coming to pass-that just about anything but gold will act as the future's value storage mechanism, he neglects to admit, except very occasionally, that gold could (continue to) do well for some number of years until his model takes hold. To quote the arch hater of the old gold standard, John Maynard
barbarous relic Keynes, "In the long run we're all dead." As such, in the meantime, while waiting for the the longest running tradition in human experience of one item acting as money over time, to end, you will lose your shirt, if you haven't already, should you choose to act on the formulations of those who mistake (and misrepresent) the way the world is, for the way they envision it at some unspecified point in the future.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Uncertainty Principle

As Tom Stoppard illustrated so well in his play, Arcadia, we humans have a desperate need for certainty in situations where, generally, there is none to be had. Psychologically, most of us feel rather uncomfortable maneuvering through life without rock solid narratives to explain the myriad things, both large and small, that matter to us. I know I have all sorts of explanations for all manner of human phenomena, but, I must say that, though I hew to a variety of views quite strongly, I always try to be aware that, to paraphrase Hamlet, there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in one's philosophy.

All this by way of saying that no matter how well one thinks one has thought something through, there are always things one has simply not accounted for. Now, of course, sometimes the probability that one has left some crucial aspect or two out of their brilliant formulation is low, but, even that, outside of the limited purview of very hard science, is a state of affairs that is, to to a greater or lesser extent, simply unknowable. At this point you may be, just perhaps, wondering what shaky (according to me) positions I have in mind when I prattle on about unknowability? All in good time.